Not up here you’re not!

Lymm to Widnes (19m)
Early start with the motorway truckers as soon as dawn broke and up the A50 to Warrington. But wait a minute, what’s this Traffic Officer saying? “And where do you think you are off to?” Me, in my 7am commander of all I survey, voice; ” Up here to get onto this footpath”, offering ancient OS map in evidence, ” Not up there you’re not, this is the M6!” Oops!
Well I could explain but it would be pointless wouldn’t it? Yes dear reader I was navigating up the M6 and no mistake. Jane said she had her doubts about the route but hadn’t raised them because she knew what my response would be. And thereby hangs an improving tale for all of us.
Route corrected, and aiming to rejoin the canal asap, we routed up a bridle way and found ourselves in the company of a man with a gun and full military camouflage ( including face) and yes, he was out shooting; pigeons, 493 last month and yes, he ate them ( and Canada Geese and Mallard) Well, we are in Cheshire!
Reconnecting with the Bridgewater and a rather basic tow path; so basic that not a single cyclist appeared. ( Jeremy please note for next speech)
The canal snaked through Grappenhall, Thelwell Heys ( yes a Shetland pony was spotted), Stockton Heath and Lower Walton. All would have made a great Flanders and Swan song had they ever strayed north of Watford. But sadly the link with this lovely 300 year old canal had to be broken to reach Runcorn,with its famous Priory and even more famous Bridge. So famous and iconic is the bridge, that it is due to be closed ( it was only opened in 1961) and replaced by another even longer and supported by a lot less metal work called the Mersey Gateway ( clever, not a common or garden bridge at all)
Extra miles were walked to reach Widnes station and access to Liverpool via Halewood. Of which more tomorrow. Widnes station was built where it is for a reason I expect; it’s possible the good townsfolk having endured a coal and steel-fuelled industrial revolution, followed by the most polluting petro-chemical industry in Europe, didn’t want train smuts as well. But it was too late, the reputational damage was done, the town’s picture board records it as “the dirtiest, ugliest and most depressing town in England” and for good measure, “a poisonous hell town”. But that’s all in the past and since most of the poisonous industry has been run out of town or closed, there is very little of any thing left in Widnes at all. Even Mel B ( Spice Girl remember?) who was apparently born in Widnes keeps changing her Wiki entry to Warrington; how bad can it all get? It could be worse, people might confuse you with Wigan I suppose…….

Medical Report: nil other than slightly deflated ego, see above. But at least I have something now to match Diana’s roller-skating on the M6!

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